Bell County Fiscal Court approved the first reading of the proposed fiscal year 2013-14 budget during its regular meeting.
“We have a good budget,” said Bell County Judge-Executive Albey Brock. “We are blessed.”
Brock recognized the magistrates for assisting the court in keeping the budget in line and making sure Bell citizens don’t face the same issues as people in surrounding counties.
“When you read neighboring county newspapers and you see the woes the other fiscal courts are facing right now, we are really lucky,” said Brock.
Brock mentioned that other counties are looking at laying off county workers and cutting essential services to help with budgetary problems.
One county Brock made reference to was Pike County. Pike is currently facing nearly a $3.3 million budget deficit. Brock also made reference to Harlan County, who he said is facing similar issues in the next fiscal year budget.
Brock credits the success of the Bell County budget on how coal severance tax money is used in the county. He said the Bell County Fiscal Court doesn’t rely on coal severance for debt service or paying for essential services.
Brock said the fiscal court uses coal severance for one-time expenditures such as equipment. When equipment is bought using coal severance money, there is no need to finance the item.
“When coal severance declines that affects us… but it does not affect us in the way in which it does our neighbors because we don’t use it for recurring expenditures,” said Brock.
Brock said a raise was placed in the budget for county employees. The raise would not take effect until January after the budget is reviewed so the court will have an opportunity to see how revenue is received.
Brock said the raise is not guaranteed because they want to see if the numbers are good, but one has been budgeted.
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